‘We pray for peace’: St Christopher’s celebrates the Chrism Mass
After two years of restrictions, the faithful from across the archdiocese returned in large numbers to St Christopher’s Cathedral on Monday evening for the annual Chrism Mass.
The celebration is traditionally held during Holy Week for the consecration of oils used in parishes for Baptism, Confirmation, Anointing of the Sick and Holy Orders. Archdiocesan clergy also renew their priestly promises during the celebration.
Mass was celebrated by Archbishop Christopher Prowse with the new Papal Nuncio to Australia, Archbishop Charles Balvo, and about 50 priests as concelebrants with deacons and seminarians assisting.
Archbishop Prowse welcomed Archpriest Fr Alexander Morozow, of the Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Narrabundah, and Rev David Campbell, from St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, who represented the ACT Council of Churches.
Fr Wally Kalinecki, of Canberra’s Ukrainian Catholic Church, was unable to attend because of COVID.
In his homily, Archbishop Prowse said he was delighted by the in-person and in-spirit participation of all three, for the message of solidarity it demonstrated.
The Chrism Mass wasn’t just a Catholic celebration, he said, “it’s all of us, all men and women of good will. We’re neighbours, aren’t we?”
Referring to challenges such as COVID, bushfires, floods and mice plagues, the Archbishop said we now have “the dehumanising sounds of guns, missiles and tanks on the international community”.
“We pray for peace. Peace comes from Jesus.”
In his remarks, Archbishop Balvo said it was a “great joy” to participate in the Chrism Mass early in his Australian ministry and take part in the life of the local church.
Drawing from the words of Pope Francis, he said a life of faith and prayer was the “vaccine” to help us to combat the “virus of discouragement that at times seems to spread all around us”.
An American veteran of the Vatican’s diplomatic service, Archbishop Balvo has been in Australia for three weeks after postings including New Zealand and the Czech Republic.
For Lisa Gunn and her young family it was their first time at the Chrism Mass. “I thought it was very moving,” Lisa said. “It gave me hope for the strength of the church, seeing all those priests together.”
A similar sentiment was shared by Margaret and Dennis Wylks, parishioners of Our Lady of the Annunciation, Weston Creek. “Such a joyous occasion to be with our priests and to celebrate their priesthood. It’s an honour to be here,” Margaret said.
An honour and privilege, too, for Rev David Campbell who told Catholic Voice that despite the differences between Christian churches, he came to the Chrism Mass to represent those things “we share in common”.
“I’m very, very honoured to be invited by the Archbishop,” he said.
For Fr Morozow, it was “personally, an honour and a privilege to share in such an occasion. It was solemn and beautiful.”